Normally I’m pitching my own authors for guest posts on Seekerville, so I was honored when asked to write a post of my own. Thank you for welcoming me into your community!
The life of a publicist can be challenging. Most of our pitches to the media never get responses. We’re happy to even get a “no” because at least we have an answer to give to authors, agents, and marketers. For an in-house publicist like myself, we’re also juggling multiple titles at various stages of the publicity process at any given time. This can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a people-pleaser and want to do the best you possibly can for all your authors.
The media landscape is also constantly changing. There are fewer print magazines and smaller editorial staffs trying to do the same amount of work. Social media has changed the way people get their news. National media is no longer breaking the news. Instead, news breaks on social media and traditional media continues the conversation. This changes the way publicists and authors need to approach PR for their books.
If you’re an author or aspiring author, here are a few ways you can help make your publicist’s job a little easier (and increase the chances of getting more PR for your book):
1. Be available. It’s extremely important to be available to do publicity around your book’s release. Ideally, you should keep your schedule more open the month before release, the month of release, and the month after release. This is the key window for publicity. Try to have time set aside where you can work on any articles, Q&As or guest blog posts your publicist may want you to write (even better if you write a few of these pieces early and send them to your publicist to pitch). Be flexible in your schedule if you can for any radio or TV interviews that come up, particularly during the month your book releases.
2. Be responsive. Radio stations will often send out several dates available for interviews to multiple people at once, so it’s imperative that you respond to your publicist’s request for an interview within 24 hours. If you take too long to respond, you may lose the interview because others have already filled up all the available slots. I tend to prefer emailing requests to my authors (as do many of my colleagues) because it gives us a “paper trail” to follow when looking back through emails, but if you prefer receiving texts for important interview requests or a phone call, be sure to communicate that to your publicist so she knows the best way to reach you. We don’t want you to miss out on a great PR opportunity!
3. Become an expert for the media. We have heard from countless media outlets that they are not looking to interview authors about their books. They want to talk to experts who can give their opinion on what is happening in the news. We know your book is important to you, but unfortunately unless you’re a well-known author, your new book release is not news. In order to increase your chances of getting interviews on broadcast media, you need to be qualified to speak on a certain topic. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need degrees in a specific area (though that will add credibility). You may have gone through a particular life experience that qualifies you to speak on a topic such as the loss of a child, infidelity in marriage, battling cancer, race relations, etc. If these topics are dealt with in your book, even better. That creates the perfect media tie-in. The interview will not be directly about your book, but if the host is doing his or her job, he or she will mention your book during the interview and may even link to a place for people to buy your book on their website. It can be a little more challenging for fiction authors to present themselves as “experts” in a particular area, so we generally do not pitch fiction authors for interviews, but if you do have an area of expertise your publicist can leverage with the media (our author Joel C. Rosenberg is a great example of this), be sure to let her know.
4. Be prepared to continue your own publicity after the book launch. If you are working with an in-house publicist, after that initial three month publicity period, you need to be prepared to do some of your own publicity to keep the momentum going and to continue to engage your readers and fans. Unfortunately in-house publicists are already looking to focus on next season’s books, so we can’t give your book our full attention anymore (unless you have some really great momentum going). I continue to follow up on any requests I receive for my authors after the initial book launch, but I’m not able to actively pitch them to the media. There are independent publicists and PR agencies you may be able to hire to continue doing PR for you, but you could also do a lot of PR on your own for free. Tyndale provides its authors with a packet to help them continue their own publicity and marketing efforts after the initial book launch. The books that have longer shelf lives are generally ones where the author is very involved in promoting and marketing his own book.
If you don’t yet have a publisher (or even if you’re already published), here are some suggestions to help you start doing some PR for yourself:
1. Begin building your platform. Work to build up a group of engaging followers on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. The number of followers you have is not valuable if your followers do not interact with you. Reply to tweets and comments, engage yourself in conversations about the topics in your book(s), blog about these topics. Start building yourself up as an expert in these areas and soon people will start coming to you when looking for information on those particular topics.
2. Connect with influential bloggers. This is particularly good for fiction authors since blog reviews and blog tours are often a big part of our fiction campaigns. Find other authors or bloggers who are interested in your genre and start building relationships with them. Once you have that relationship it will be easier to ask later if they might review your book on their blog or allow you to write a guest post around your book’s release.
3. Consider experimenting with Periscope. Periscope is an app that allows you to live-stream video. It’s connected to your Twitter account, but you need to download the app and sign in to use it. Last week my author, Rachelle Dekker, who wrote The Choosing, did a Periscope chat for about 20 minutes one evening. We were pleasantly surprised with the number of people who tuned in to her broadcast and asked Rachelle great questions about writing. It was a wonderful way for Rachelle to connect with her fans and she will probably do another chat in the future. This may not be for everyone, but if you are interested in connecting with your readers in a new way, consider exploring Periscope.
PR is one of those jobs where the effort put in does not always show in the results. We may have great pitch angles for an author who is willing and able to do anything and everything to promote her book, but we only get a handful of media hits. Or we may have authors do tons of major media like the Today Show, Fox & Friends, or Good Morning America and still not sell many books. That can be discouraging at times, but I love getting the message of great books out there. Even if one person’s life is impacted from a book I helped promote, that makes it all worth it.
I am working on so many great books right now that I’d love to give away a bundle of some of them to one lucky winner! (Winner announced in the Weekend Edition). Here’s what’s included in the giveaway pack:
• Secrets She Kept ARC by Cathy Gohlke
• God for the Rest of Us by Vince Antonucci
• The Tank Man’s Son by Mark Bouman
• Street God by Dimas Salaberrios
• Praying Over God’s Promises by Tom Yeakley
Have you ever had a time where the effort you put into something did not show in the results? How did you keep yourself from being discouraged?
Christy Stroud has been working in publicity at Tyndale House Publishers for seven and a half years. She has done PR for New York Times bestsellers such as Winning Balance by Olympic gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson and the Courageous novelization by Randy Alcorn. She has also worked with David Platt, Josh McDowell, Rachelle Dekker, Cathy Gohlke, Gina Holmes, Allison Pittman, Eva Marie Everson and many more. Christy lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, 19-month-old son, and pug. You can connect with Christy on Twitter @ChristyWStroud or at her blog, christymwong.wordpress.com. Follow Tyndale as well @TyndaleHouse and visit us at tyndale.com.